Even a Web Founder Worries about Today’s Connected World Climate

the-innovators-9781476708706_hr-1Can a world wide web creator be a doubter about what he helped to create?

I’ve just finished reading The Innovators by Walter Isaacson, a book that highlights the many people who helped create, step-by-step, the digital world where we now reside.

The book begins way back in the mid-1800s with the ideas of Lady Ada Lovelace, an amateur mathematician (and the daughter of poet Lord Byron). It was Lady Ada, Isaacson writes, who provided the ideas and laid groundwork for early computer developers to use nearly 100 years later when they created their first computing machines.                              Continue reading

Kids and Web Resource Credibility

If you find yourself thinking about the digital research activities of children, especially older students who complete significant amounts of their research using the unlimited resources available on the World Wide Web, you are not alone. Over the past 10 years I have wondered — more than once and sometimes with great angst — if my child and the many children I’ve known really understand the need to evaluate the resources that they find on the web.

Earlier this year I discovered a small book, published by the MacArthur Foundation, describing research that explored how children perceive the quality and reliability of digital media. It’s a book that concerned parents may want to read. In Kids and Credibility: An Empirical Examination of Youth, Digital Media Use, and Information Credibility, authors Andrew J. Flanagin and Miriam J. Metzger, summarize their study as a “…comprehensive investigation into youth’s Internet use and their assessment of the credibility of online information.” The authors wondered whether young digital media users, while sophisticated and fearless about using technology, could evaluate information and determine its quality.

To learn more about young people and web credibility the researchers planned and executed a web-based survey of more than 2,000 children age 11 – 18. Study participants also completed a range of Internet tasks, evaluating information, making judgements about content, and explaining how and why they complete web tasks in certain ways. While there is far too much to cover in one blog post — check out the many interesting graphs in the publication — I’ve listed a few of the most interesting observations below. Continue reading

Teens, Parent Anxiety, and the Internet

Made with Wordle!

Day after day frightening stories bombard us with warnings about what might happen to children and teens when they use the Internet and World Wide Web, so it’s useful to remind ourselves that these digital resources can provide our children with unparalleled opportunities to learn, socialize, and become active citizens. An article, Our Overblown Paranoia About the Internet and Teens, recently published in the online publication, Salon, provides just such a reminder.

Pediatrician Rahul Parikh, who practices in the San Francisco Bay area, points out that, despite all of our anxiety about teens and Internet risks, no statistics really exist to offer a full picture of the incidence of exposure to risk. Those few that do are often biased because of a common problem for research, posing questions to get the desired answer. Situations that do occur are often covered by a hysterical media, making us feel like a problem happens over and over, just around the corner. Continue reading

Back-to-School Digital Reading #5: Your Child’s Privacy

Privacy is important for adults and children. Now an investigation has found that children who use well-known web sites are opening the door for small information-collecting programs called trackers to be installed on their computers.

In a September 17, 2010 article, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on its investigation into tracking technologies that are widely used by popular websites visited by children and adolescents. The article, On the Web Children Face Intensive Tracking, explains how investigators examined 50 popular children’s Internet sites to find out how much tracking occurs. They found that these sites install large numbers of tracking programs on personal computers without the knowledge of children and their parents.

Continue reading